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InsideHoops [FANTASY BASKETBALL] Jan. 29, 2004

Fantasy Basketball Answers




The Answerman is the first and only fantasy basketball and romance advice columnist on the net. He’s here at to answer all your questions (or at least the interesting one).

I loathe mid-season award columns, specifically from fantasy basketball columnists. All they do is tell you who is playing well – which any serious fantasy basketball player already knows. “Kevin Garnett is having a good season? Oh darn, surprisingly someone in my league already has him.” It's almost like telling you that Tyra Banks is hot and you should try to hook up with her.

However, feeling obliged to give some type of mid-season column, here are my “All-Pleasant Surprise” and “All-Disappointment” teams along with explanation of how you could have better predicted their performances before your fantasy basketball draft.

All-Pleasant Surprise Team

PG: Sam Cassell. He’s over 20 points, he’s up 1.5 assists from last season and most impressively, he picked up 3 field goal percentage points and 7 three-point percentage points. How should we have known?

He gets to play with Kevin Garnett now. Garnett is a better finisher than anyone he played with last year – upping his assists. Moreover, Troy Hudson, a back-up in Orlando, became a fantasy commodity playing point guard in Minnesota. An existing fantasy player like Cassell was bound to improve.

SG: Jason Richardson. He’s up 3 points, 1.5 rebounds and 4 field goal percentage points. How should we have known?

After Antawn Jamison was traded, Gilbert Arenas vacated and Earl Boykins went north it became clear that Richardson would get more shots. Obviously, Richardson should not have been picked ahead of Pierce, Iverson, McGrady, or Allen, but he deserved to be in consideration in that second tier of shooting guards.

SF: Antawn Jamison. He’s not actually up in any category. The surprise is that I thought he was done upon being traded as a starter in Golden State to the bench in Dallas. However, he is having an extremely solid season in Dallas. How should I have known?

There are just some teams that allow big stats from multiple players. In football, three years ago, everyone who had a St. Louis Ram did well. In basketball, it's Dallas and Sacramento. Get any of their top 5 or 6 players on your squad and stats miraculously appear.

PF: Zach Randolph. Randolph is up across the board. How should we have known that 8.4 points and 4 rebounds would become 21 points and 11 rebounds?

Anyone who watched the Portland vs. Dallas playoff matchup last year knew that Zach Randolph would be a force, eventually. The real key was Maurice Cheeks “announcing” that Randolph would be a starter before the season started. This was huge. Teams seldom “announce” that a specific player will start. Typically they just announce a lineup or make no indication at all. This was an indication that: 1) Randolph will be getting minutes and 2) Portland is committing to him as a special player. Next season – if any player gets a specific announcement, react accordingly.

C: Erick Dampier. Dampier went from 8 points and 6 rebounds to 11 points and 11 rebounds. That’s a jump from obscurity to good fantasy center. How should we have known?

The biggest difference in Dampier’s game this year is 8 minutes. He was playing 24 minutes per game last year, splitting time (rebounds and shots) with Adonal Foyle and Troy Murphy. This year, Foyle and Murphy are hurt. Someone has to clean the glass for the traditionally good rebounding-poor shooting Warriors. It's on Dampier and he is responding.

Remember, two of the most important pieces of information before drafting a player: games and minutes played. Dampier’s value increased along with his minutes.

All-Disappointment Team

PG: Tony Parker. Parker is at 14 points, 5.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds. His stats are at best marginal for a point guard, however he was widely a 6th or 7th round selection. Why should we have known better?

You could have looked at his stats from last year. They were about the same. The system run in San Antonio does not create big assists for the point guard. It's not Parker’s fault, but he is not a good fantasy point guard. Those who selected him too early watched the Finals, heard him compared with Kidd and thought he’d be good. You all thought wrong.

SG: Kobe Bryant (here come the angry letters). Bryant is down 9 points, 1.5 assists, and 2 rebounds per game from last season and has a stint on the injured list. Why should we have known better?

You should have known better because I told you before the season started. The injuries and surgeries were bad signs. Couple that with the sharing of shots in Los Angeles and you’ve got a poor fantasy season.

Remember, good team play leads to poor fantasy play. We want selfish players, who shoot whenever they touch the ball and only pass when it will lead to an assist.

SF: Ricky Davis. Is he really a small forward? Am I cheating? Deal with it. He is down 7 points and 2 assists from last year. He was a hair below upper-echelon players last year. Now, he doesn’t belong on fantasy rosters (though, that could change depending on how the new Celtics coach uses him). Why should we have known better?

Davis was the selfish player we fantasy owners wanted last year. When Cleveland drafted LeBron James and Paul Silas was hired, the ball was coming out of Davis’ hand. Davis had to either become a “team player” - which we don’t want - or not adapt, which would have led to a trade. Eventually the latter occurred and he has lost his value.

You’ve got to be aware of team dynamics before drafting.

PF: Chris Webber. Webber’s stats are 1st round stats and he is among the most elite players in the league. Too bad for owners that he hasn’t done anything yet. Most Webber-drafters are at the bottom of their leagues and frantically read the Sacramento Bee every morning for updates on Webber’s health.

You cannot draft oft-injured players. My number is 40. If a player misses a total of 40 games over his last 2 seasons, he must be avoided. If you drafted Webber before the 5th round you made a huge mistake.

C: Shaq O’Neal. The issues with Webber and Bryant both should have been taken into consideration before drafting O’Neal.

We all should know that Shaq is a generous player who moves the ball and will give up shots for teammates. With Malone, Payton, and Bryant, Shaq’s scoring would take a hit. We also all should know that Shaq only plays for portions of the season. However, we all know that Shaq is the only center who provides stats worthy of an early pick.

Next season, do not jump the gun on drafting Shaq. He can be had after the 3rd round. By that time you should have enough good players to make up for his missed games

Congrats to all of my award winners. Remember, if you have any questiosn, ask the

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